No bedding in time for Bann in new IHL season

Mandatory Credit:  Rowland White/PressEye'Hockey: Sport Connex Challenge'Teams: Lisnagarvey (blue) v Banbridge (red)'Venue: Lisnagarvey'dare: 19th September 2015'Caption: Owen Magee on the ball for Banbridge
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White/PressEye'Hockey: Sport Connex Challenge'Teams: Lisnagarvey (blue) v Banbridge (red)'Venue: Lisnagarvey'dare: 19th September 2015'Caption: Owen Magee on the ball for Banbridge

Banbridge know they must hit the ground running this season.

Unlike previous seasons, when they could usually afford to start off at less than full capacity and still coast to victory, the Irish Hockey League will require tip top performances from the off.

This weekend, Bann host Annadale, a side that they only beat by the odd goal at Havelock last season.

Annadale have bolstered their squad with the signing of an Australian forward but thankfully for Bann, he won’t arrive until Sunday.

Nonetheless, Annadale’s Ireland man Michael Robson combined with the services of the experienced ex internationals Davy Smyth and Chris Jackson, flying winger Matthew Allister and the Edgar twins could prove a tough nut to crack.

“We need to look after our own game,” said Bann coach Mark Tumilty.

“We were lucky enough to beat them 3-2 at Havelock last year so we have to make sure there are no sli-ups on Saturday.

“I have no doubt that our boys will up their game for our first competitive game. These opening matches are always so important to win.”

Bann warmed up for the season with a pre-season tournament at Lisnagarvey last weekend, beating the hosts before losing to Pembroke on Sunday and turning their thoughts to the IHL.

“We’ve got a tough start against Annadale, Railway Union, Lisnagarvey and Monkstown.

“It’s a tough few weeks but then none of the games in this league will be easy. That’s why we are in it.

“The players will learn from that and we will develop a lot more because of it. I can’t wait for it.”

Tumilty, however, hasn’t had much time to prep his squad for the new season with the pre-season scheduled hampered by inter national commitments.

He said: “Things are going to be slow for us because we have only got our full squad back together last week. We’re a little off where we want to be in terms of sharpness but we will get there.”